American Legion applauds VA's new weed policy

Matt Saintsing
December 20, 2017 - 10:35 am

(Photo by Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA)

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The nation’s largest veterans group, the American Legion, is praising the Department of Veterans Affairs for updating a policy that makes it easier for veterans who use medical marijuana to discuss it openly with their doctors.

On December 8, the VA issued Directive 1315, which outlines their new policy allowing VA doctors to discuss marijuana use with their patients “due to its clinical relevance to patient care” and can answer veterans’ inquiries about cannabis.

“This updated policy will help encourage veterans using medical cannabis to more openly and fully discuss their healthcare options with VA medical providers - with full reassurance that their VA benefits remain secure,” Denise Rohan, National Commander of The American Legion, said in a statement emailed to Connecting Vets.

“We are pleased that the VA is now taking the full medical history of these veterans into consideration when evaluating their physical and mental health.”

Read More: 'Its Not an Entry Drug, Its an Exit Drug': Vets Speak Out on Cannabis

The new directive is a far cry from encouraging marijuana use, and VA doctors are still prohibited from recommending cannabis. Veterans who live in any of the 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have medical marijuana laws are free to use cannabis outside of the VA system.

The Legion has been at the forefront of medical cannabis advocacy for veterans. In November, the group asked the VA to allow doctors to speak with their patients about medical marijuana.

Survey results from a recent study, released from the Legion, showed that 92 percent of veterans and their caregivers support research into the medical value of marijuana. 82 percent support its outright legalization.

The Legion, “through Resolution 11, continues to call on the federal government to remove cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to enable safe and efficient drug development research,” according to the statement.